Short story long.....I live in a rural area in north Idaho. My neighbor, 300 yards +/- away, has chickens. I have 3 dogs: Nyla, a 12 year old blue heeler mix; Lady, a 5 year old female shelter dog we got when she was 1 - She's a yellow lab/red heeler mix?; and Rylee, our 10 month old red heeler TERRORIST puppy.....Lady and Rylee made their way to the neighbor's one day and killed a chicken. A few weeks later, the neighbor came over on his 4 wheeler and went to his house for something and Rylee jumped on his 4 wheeler with him and went home with the neighbor. The neighbor came right back, but without Rylee. My husband and neighbor ran to neighbor's on 4 wheeler and Rylee was there and had killed another chicken. I decided (against hubby's wishes) we should get our own chickens to train dogs to stay home and not kill chickens. There has been an EMPTY chicken coop on our property since we moved here 20 years ago. Hubby didn't want chickens, no way no how! Deal was we would get 3 chickens, train the dogs, and then give chickens to neighbor. I fell in love with chickens. In 3 months 3 chickens have now turned into 17 by me collecting adult egg layers from Facebook yard sales. Dogs do fine with chickens now (killed one when we first started when grandkids let dogs into coop; hasn't happened since - about 3 months). Anyway, winter is coming and I'm concerned about my flock. I have 4 Norwegian Jaerhons, 2 Americanas, 3 cresteds, 2 sebrights, and six young (5 months?) mixed Americanas/Aerucanas, one of which is a rooster!!! (But I love him too, even thought I didn't want any roosters.....oops!)
I'm going to hopefully post pictures of my coop. It is a long enclosed coop, split in half. The left half is the coop, the right half is storage for straw, food, Christmas lights,totes, etc. The inside middle is only divided by chicken wire. We plan on putting plastic up over the chicken wire. There is also an open "doorway" covered with chicken wire and a "window" also covered by chicken wire. We covered these "openings" to keep skunks, raccoons, bobcats, etc. out!! But come winter, they need to be covered with plastic and/or plywood. Then....there will be no outside light and chickens will be cooped up for winter. My concern is "light" and "cold". There is power to the coop and I have a 5 gallon chicken waterer and I just bought a "warmer" to put under it to keep it from freezing. I've heard bad things about heat lamps. I bought 2 red ones today but I'm going to return them. I think a regular light bulb turned on in the morning and turned out at night will suffice.......or will it? My coop is not "insulated". But once I cover the three (3) "openings", the coop will be fully "enclosed"......lots of quotes here, I know, but things are not exact!!! I'm hoping my pictures will help give you advice- givers a clearer picture. Also, I'm probably jumping around here a lot.....football is on! Go SEAHAWKS!!!! (Denver is playing Kansas City at the moment....lol). Anyway.....will my coop be warm enough? Will there be drafts? Heat lamp or regular light bulb? I'm so worried about my girls (and Rooster Cogburn).....I'm new here and new at chicken farming. Please help as much as possible.....thanks!!!! Cluck, cluck, cocka doodle doo!!!